The s*** storm which is Brexit

There is a really good opinion piece I read recently in open democracy from a leave voter. Who although holds on to her believes why she voted to leave but can’t bear to see the massive s*** storm which is about to tear the United Kingdom (ha!) apart.

The economic arguments for Brexit have been destroyed by a series of shattering blows

Take the deal, or maybe its pride which stops the UK from doing so?

So I argue, as a Brexiteer, that we need to take a long deep breath. We need to swallow our pride, and think again. Maybe it means rethinking the Brexit decision altogether.

Certainly it means a delay when we can think about it all in a period of calm. Europe is offering us this opportunity. President Tusk is ready to offer a year’s extension. I say: grab it with both hands.

I’ve been thinking for a long while its time to stop this craziness with a 2nd vote but those who voted leave will cry fowl or say we have undermined democracy. However deep down I think there are some critical reasons why this must happen…

The author pretty much writes the reasons in her post.

  1. Independence is it really worth the battle?

I respect those who say yes, all this is worth it to pursue a dream of independence. It is a noble dream. I share it. It is founded on Britain’s historic role as a proud nation that has repeatedly fought for freedom and liberty. I, too, am conscious of our magnificent history. In the 18th century we stood against the Bourbon dream of European hegemony. We liberated Europe from the Napoleonic domination of continental Europe at the start of the 19th century. And faced up to Nazi Germany in 1940.

But this is not 1939 or the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. History gets made and remade all the time. The European Union is not a dictatorship, as contemptuous of national identity as Napoleonic France. Nor can it be compared to Nazi Germany – a foolish analogy which has become an ugly cliché and displays an unforgivable failure to understand the true horror of recent European history. Nor is it any longer a socialist project as envisaged by Jacques Delors, let alone an evil empire, as some have characterised it.

Of course our looming privations and national isolation would be thoroughly worthwhile if we were confronting such a continental menace. Let others call us ridiculous: we would have a duty to stand alone. But is such language appropriate in a century when all our EU partners are democracies, and none poses the remotest threat of taking up arms against us? Donald Tusk, who will lead the EU heads of government when they meet next week to decide Britain’s future inside the union, is not Hindenberg. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, is a genial, shrewd elderly man who (like me) enjoys the occasional drink.

I readily accept that the European Union is a dysfunctional body beset by all manner of problems. But the lesson of the last two years is that we are much better off working inside the EU (where we are greatly respected; it was British civil servants, remember, who wrote the rules of the single market) for reform and not as a hostile neighbour.

2. Will there be a United Kingdom left?

Moreover, there is a second reason for why I have changed my mind. The threat to the United Kingdom. This hits me like a massive punch in the stomach. When I cast my vote in 2016 I believed that the European Union was, if anything, a threat to our own union…

Like almost everybody else I underestimated the importance of the Good Friday Agreement

But I did not foresee that Brexit would threaten the continued existence of our kingdom as a union. I reckoned without the separatists within our nation who would push us apart, and seize on Brexit (as the Scottish nationalists are doing) as a reason to break up.

3. The vote was illegally and heavily manipulated – FACT

My third unhappiness concerns the integrity of some leading Brexiteers. We are learning more and more about the deceit and illegal tactics which accompanied the Leave campaign. Late last month, on a busy news day, Vote Leave dropped its appeal against a £61,000 fine for electoral offences committed during the referendum.

Allegations of illegal overspending are deeply worrying. Britain’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, fined Leave. EU and Eldon Insurance, an insurance company run by Leave’s Arron Banks, a total of £120,000 for breaking electoral marketing laws. The National Crime Agency is still investigating suspicions of criminal offences committed by the unofficial Brexit campaign during the referendum. Banks’ alleged links to Russian money are even more worrying. There have not yet been serious enough attempts to answer these questions.

Everyday I can’t watch the news to see the s*** storm getting darker and darker. I’m sure in many years things will get better but I currently estimate it will be 15-20 years.

Poor rich America, the first nation?

I was reading why America is the World’s First Poor Rich Country by Umair and was pretty much agreeing with everything he wrote.

The crux of his blog is about the basics of life which you need to pay for in America.

In Europe, Canada, and even Australia, society invests in all these things — and the costs of basic necessities societies don’t provide are regulated. For example, I pay $50 dollars for broadband and TV in London — but $200 for the same thing in New York — yet in London, I get vastly more and better media for my money (even including, yes, American junk like Ancient Aliens). That’s regulation at work. And when basic goods like healthcare or elderly care or education are provided and managed at a social scale, that is when they are cheapest, and often of the best quality, too. Hence, healthcare costs far less in London, Paris, or Geneva — and life expectancy is longer, too.

So if you are earning $50k in America, it is a very different thing than earning $50k in France, Germany, or Sweden — in America, you must pay steeply for the basics of life, for basic necessities. Thus, incomes stretch much further in other countries, which enjoy a vastly higher quality of life, even though people there earn roughly the same amount, because they pay vastly less for basic necessities. Americans are rich, but only nominally — their money doesn’t buy nearly as much as their peers does, where it matters and counts most, for the basics of life.

I remember many friends moving to America and reporting the wages they were getting as a result.

One friend for example said he was earning 6 figures as a contractor and I replied great, are you paying health insurance? He replied no, he will be fine. I said GET health insurance because one slip and you are so screwed.

America is pioneering a new kind of poverty. The kind of poverty that’s developed in America isn’t just bizarre and gruesome — it’s novel and unseen. It isn’t something that we understand well, economists, intellectuals, thinkers, because we have no good framework to think about it. It’s not absolute poverty like Somalia, and it’s not just relative poverty, like in gilded banana republics. It’s a uniquely American creation. It’s extreme capitalism meets Social Darwinism by way of rugged self-reliance crossed with puritanical cruelty.

Its a big deal and Umair is right. I do have a worry that the UK is sleep walking in the same direction too!

Been thinking about this a lot as the Brexit drama turns into full on insanity. Really good to finally watch Noam Chomsky’s Requiem for the American Dream.

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/1105614199512883200

Art of influence and misdirection

On the eve of another big decision, I’ve been thinking about influence and misdirection quite a bit.

I was reminded of a book and TV series I saw when I was much younger. It was called How to be Cool. Part of the thinking is influence and the theory of memetics. PBS did a series called The Merchants of Cool, although the one I remember included Douglas Rushkoff.

Nostalgia is the enemy of progress and they know this?

Vinyl Night

Some of you might think, you wrote about this before? Well yes I did…  but I have even more to add.

I was actually listening to the wired podcast (which recently hasn’t been so great) and they mentioned the Nokia 3310 and a review of the retro phone along with other retro stuff. The later link is worth reading as it links the tech industries retro fascination with our need for nostalgia due to the current political climate.

Our love of nostalgic gadgets comes from the shaky political world we live and brands are using it to their advantage

Nostalgia is an increasingly popular marketing strategy. As consumers, we’ve enjoyed a resurgence of iconic brands and models such as RayBan ‘Wayfarers’, SMEG fridges, Nintendo consoles, vinyl and turntables, Nike Air Max, the infamous Nokia 3310. The list goes on.

“In times of uncertainty, people naturally gravitate towards nostalgic products and experiences,” says psychology professor Sir Cary Lynn Cooper at Manchester Business School. “It gives them a feeling of stability. With the likes of Brexit and Trump continuing the uncertainty of 2016 into 2017, people will be reminiscing about fond times in a more stable world. These times will no doubt have an affinity with certain experiences, brands or products.”

To be fair reading it, its more focused on price points than anything but I do find the amount of people getting into vinyl (although not getting into djing which seems a shame), hollywood remaking old films (although this has always been the case) and of course the retro gaming trend.

Its a interesting point and I’ll refer back to my thoughts previously and I even mention Brexit back then.

I do wonder if its a chicken & egg issue? Is the demand coming from companies or from the people? I think its the people as I imagine nostalga has always been there going way way back

I don’t like these electric light switch things, much prefer the smell of gas lamps?

I jokely imagine? But you only have to think about fireplaces and how people love them. I assume the companies just worked out this is a sure way to sell stuff. Be it retro trainers, 60/70/80’s clothes, 90’s phones, gas lamps, etc etc…

Trainspotting t2's living in the past

There is something Veronika says in trainspotting t2 when Sickboy and Renton are reminiscing about the past. Something like, in her country people think about the future not think about the past.

Everything’s going to be alright

Brexit
Frankly 2016 has been pretty shocking… Brexit, Trump, Internet censorship, Data retention, the increasing divide between the working class and middle class. I’m not saying its the worst year ever or the worst I have ever experienced, just its pretty bad.

I think this sums up so much

The Brexit campaign was centred on the idea of taking back control. That is what it said in huge letters on the red bus – a slogan that went far beyond the demand for control of our borders.

The point was that people all over Britain were desperate for a democratic system that gave them some semblance of control over their destiny, in a globalised and interconnected world where decisions often seem to be made by anonymous elites a long way away.

To them, the European Union was one obvious villain.

Ok enough… I decided a long time ago that I can’t worry about the things I can’t easily change, I can only change the things which I have direct control over. Actually trying to change everything drives you slightly nuts.

I can't change the world, but I can change the world in me

I happen to read laura’s blog while on the bus back from Bristol and it seemed to fit perfectly here, as I start to deconstruct this years love life.

Its been a busy year but honestly not nearly as much love as you would have thought. I made the effort to date less and have more purpose about my love life. This meant less time on OKcupid, PoF, Bumble and being more selective when speed dating. I tried going more organic with dating aka through friends of friends, its been ok. You do start to wonder sometimes… but I agree with Laura on bad dates…

The consistent comment is that I have such terrible luck, and always end up on these really ‘bad dates’, but I can’t help but disagree. There’s no such thing as bad dates, just the opportunity for a good story, a page in the autobiography, and the more terrible the date, the better the story. In my opinion, the worst possible kind of date are the ones that aren’t memorable, and usually they’re so because nothing of note, either good or bad happened.

Some would say this sounds odd, cold or calculated? But honestly it’s not, the point is each interaction changes you and your outlook. A new story a new experience, a new view. Some dates are memorable and some you forget about. It’s worst to be non-memorable and one worst to be memorable for the wrong reasons.

This is always a tricky time to be single and for some of my newly single friends it’s a lonely time. I can only say this is a good time to take stock, be honest with family/friends and share. Its not the time for judgement. Its time to listen and enjoy each others company.

Think about what makes you unique and focus on that rather all the things which you should be (no matter what people, media, etc say). Theres a lot of pressure to be this, that or another. One of my new years resolutions was to think humanity, being human we are not perfect but we can only be the best we are. We move through life in the best we feel (hopefully not harming ourselves or others). For me thats being as honest, genuine and open as I can be.

For me, I enjoy meeting new people (I’m very much an extrovert) and tend to make things an experience worth remembering. Focus on the present as thats what you can change now; don’t dwell on the past and think about the future.

Enjoy the holidays and each other…

Don’t play the trump card… America

https://twitter.com/cubicgarden/status/753660985542672384

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

Government’s response to the second referendum

 

Brexit
I fianlly got to see the orginial in Bristol just recently

 

I signed the much talked about petition,“EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum;” a while ago and finally it was debated…

The response is…

The European Union Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015, receiving overwhelming support from Parliament. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.

The EU Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015. The Act was scrutinised and debated in Parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Act set out the terms under which the referendum would take place, including provisions for setting the date, franchise and the question that would appear on the ballot paper. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.

As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on 27 June, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say. The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.

So that’s it… it’s looking even less possible that the EU ref will be undone.

The nightmare is real.

The dream is real

We opened Pandora’s box and now have to deal with the negative consequences which will come in one form or another… Very fitting is the annaology of panadora box with the EU Referendum, I feel.

Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching negative consequences.

 

Control of everything, at what cost to Britain?

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On Friday 24th June I woke up in another universe, one where 51.9% of Britain voted to exit from the European Union. I had gone to bed just as I heard the news Sunderland had voted to leave the EU. There is so many things to say but I want to say…

I reiterate, I am so so so embarrassed and ashamed to be british to all my EU friends and collaborators for the ‪#‎brexit‬ result… Kat says it exactly right

I don’t usually watch much live/broadcast TV but it was on at work, so I watched a bit of coverage. There was quite a bit with people from both sides. What I found really interesting from most of the people who voted leave, was the need to have control. control of our borders, control of our laws, control of immigration, control of our money, control, control…

Or the rather the illusion of control… This is set in motion through Fear. Interestingly Adam Curtis’ Power of Nightmares talks about this…

…fear will not last, and just as the dreams that the politicians once promised turned out to be illusions, so too will the nightmares. And then, our politicians will have to face the fact that they have no visions, either good or bad, to offer us any longer.

Watching the leave campaign talk about what next after the decision was, lacking in vision to say the very least. They got everything they wanted including the head of Cameron.

But back to control… Control seems at odds with collaboration and cooperation. It’s exactly the kind of thing you expect from young children not reasonable adults. This was even clearer watching back some of the panel debates (the world was watching too) on the run up to Thursdays vote, although there’s enough dust kicked up to make both sides look like screaming children.

And it goes much deeper than just the EU.

The vote blew the lid off tensions between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Could stir up trouble between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Threw a series of molotov cocktails at the already growing differences between the lower and middle classes. Then dug a hole the size of the channel tunnel, straight through the baby boomer generation and every generation who followed.

How different would things be if 16-17 year olds could have voted? Heck what about all the other people who made the UK their home from the EU?

There is a slight glimmer of hope as the referendum isn’t legally binding, yet.

The referendum is advisory rather than mandatory. The 2011 referendum on electoral reform did have an obligation on the government to legislate in the event of a “yes” vote (the vote was “no” so this did not matter). But no such provision was included in the EU referendum legislation.

What happens next in the event of a vote to leave is therefore a matter of politics not law. It will come down to what is politically expedient and practicable. The UK government could seek to ignore such a vote; to explain it away and characterise it in terms that it has no credibility or binding effect (low turnout may be such an excuse). Or they could say it is now a matter for parliament, and then endeavour to win the parliamentary vote. Or ministers could try to re-negotiate another deal and put that to another referendum. There is, after all, a tradition of EU member states repeating referendums on EU-related matters until voters eventually vote the “right” way.

Theres also a petition with almost 2 million encouraging parliament to step in and debate the legality of the EU referendum. I signed it as something as devastating as leaving the EU must be debated in a rational way, not children paying in the mud that was the previous campaigns. Even if it doesn’t become legally binding some of the damage is already done and there will be collateral damage as a good part of the 51.9% will cry foul, maybe turning to greater supporters, further stiring up troubles?

I cling to the fact I never voted to leave and all the places I’d lived

  • Bristol (61.7%)
  • London Croydon (54.3%)
  • London Bromley (50.6%)
  • London Greenwich (55.6%)
  • Manchester (60.4% )

All voted as a majority to stay.

I am so greatly sorry to be British, in a similar way to how Americans use to have to apologize for George W Bush and the middle east war. Well the shoe is on the other foot now.

My country is acting like spoilt little children, fallen for the lies and needs to get a clue that the future is about collaboration & relationships not control & dominace.

EU referendum last minute thoughts…

Who Will Be Able To Vote EU Referendum?

Its only 35 minutes before I’m actually allowed to write about the EU referendum or Brexit if you prefer. I wasn’t going to post it but decided I should.

Purdah is the pre-election period in the United Kingdom, specifically the time between an announced election and the final election results. The time period prevents central and local government from making announcements about any new or controversial government initiatives (such as modernisation initiatives or administrative and legislative changes) which could be seen to be advantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Where a court determines that actual advantage has been given to a candidate, this may amount to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.

Its an old law and the government admits it needs updating.

Just over 6 years ago I woke up in hospital after a bleed on a brain, it was right after the national election of 2011. I asked what happened in the election, as I had lost about 3 weeks in between. Someone (my sister or Ross I think) told me the liberal democrats had joined with the conservatives. I honestly thought they were joking or I had slipped into an alternative reality and would wake up at some point.

I am deeply worried, I will wake up on Friday morning and find myself in yet another alternative reality. I can’t believe we are even having this referendum to be honest.

I’ve pretty much stayed out of the debate back and forth and just listened. I even listened to a few German’s talking about the EU referendum at popathon 2016 which was fancinating, listening what our europe friends have to say about it. As you can imagine, being a young progressive type, you know where I might stand on this all.

Having a chat with family and some friend, some are considering voting leaving. When asking why, it seems to come down to gut feeling. This is when I realised this is a asymmetrical debate, one side are arguing with facts from experts and the other are arguing with their gut. It reminds me of the election in america between Bush and Kerry. Bush was arguing for votes based on religon and Kerry something quite different.

There is something which transends some of this, its part of the Maslow hierarchy of needs, cooperative behaviour. Rosie’s blog sums this up.

When you team up with others, it’s because you believe it will be mutually beneficial and for the best overall. That’s not the same as expecting it to be brilliant for you at all times. There will be times of hardship, and you might be called on for help. Then at some point, the favour will be returned. Making a commitment means sticking it out when times get tough, in the knowledge that it will be for the best in the long term.

There is no point joining a partnership if you plan to jump ship at the first perception that things are not currently 100% in your favour.

This is basic game theory. In a repeated game (like living in the world), the best strategy is cooperation. Even if it looks like defecting will give you an immediate advantage, this is short lived and outweighed by the long term advantages of having an alliance.

I said a while that we needed to appeal to the things which that side stand by, I think cooperative behavior may be a start but I heard recently something which seemed to appeal at a much more gut level or basic needs level.

Brits don’t quit… Is this enough?

We shall see